Had a dream about shooting fashion in exotic locations and I imagined trekking through a cold, mountainous landscape, with models dressed in Jedi outfits and reindeer antlers. Yes, I’ve always had very interesting dreams (which makes waking up to the cold, hard dawn of reality a little bit disconcerting). It helps that it’s as- ahem- cold as it gets in Singapore, now that it’s mid December. And of course, we’re going to have some thundershowers, so understandably enough all the elements have been conspiring subconsciously to set up this dream.
The landscape in the dream was very Himalayan and it brought back memories of a trip to Darjeeling from a couple of winters ago. I’d first gone to Darjeeling in 2004 and had quite liked it, though even at the time it was obvious that tourism was taking a toll on the world famous hill station’s infrastructure. When S and I returned a couple of years ago, we found nothing charming about the main town- definitely not in the constantly honking water-tankers racing up and down the hill roads, and the ghastly experience of bumping into fellow tourists from one’s own part of the country. For a first time visitor, there are still some nice parts to Darjeeling (Glenary’s, the bakery, comes to mind, and also the walk along the Upper Mall road), just as long as one’s not stuck in the lower reaches of town.
Rescue came in the form of Avinash and Anila Rai, who run a beautiful homestay, enticingly called the Singalila Jungle Lodge (http://singalilajungle.blogspot.sg/) (Facebook: http://on.fb.me/225Un3b), right on the fringe of the Singalila National Park. A 3-hour drive from Darjeeling, towards the Nepal border, this place is an antidote to all the impersonal, soulless places we had experienced in Darjeeling.
We spent the daytime doing short treks into the national park, or just enjoying wherever Avinash and his merry band of able lieutenants took us to. In the evenings, we’d hang out with Anila and learn to make momos, and keep warm with a bottle of Old Monk rum. What a terrific vacation!
These pictures have been a long time coming, so thank you Avinash and Anila for your hospitality and for a vacation that we still talk about!
Short visit to HK last year….
B&W is not a medium I choose to express myself in usually, but it seemed appropriate for the grittiness of Hong Kong. Also, I came across a wonderful photobook by Diego Uchitel, which possibly had my subconscious mind processing pictures in B&W. So when I woke up today morning, I had to print out something in B&W which led to this:
Unlike the open skyline and spaces of Singapore, urban Hong Kong is heavily built up and be it Central or Mongkok, the feeling of the city closing in on you is a hard one to shake off.
Winter light is such a moody, beautiful thing. When it’s there, it fills the cracks between skyscrapers, pouring out onto the streets and highlighting everything with HD clarity. And when it’s not there, it leaves behind tones of grey and black, filled in by commuters scurrying about in search of light and heat. Throw in the varied visual backdrop of a city like Tokyo, and you never know what this combination’s going to throw up. And so, I went to Tokyo in February, seeking winter light.
Ended up doing three shoots, all in the freezing cold, with three amazing models- Sasya, Madina and Hana.
Sasya has an intensity of expression that I found perfect for our shoot at Inokashira Park. Originally from Russia,, she learnt Japanese in college and has been modelling in Tokyo for a while now. She’s very professional in her approach and went to great lengths to get the right look. It helped that she’s quite versatile as a model too and we definitely got some cool shots that day.
You can check her Instagram feed at: @sasyaru
Model: Sasya/ Acqua Models
H&MUA: Model’s own
Clothes and styling: Model’s own
I’m just putting up some fun pictures here that didn’t make up the final edit- for the entire series visit: http://www.bobanjames.com/2161299-tokyo-winter-light-1#0
Madina’s originally from Kazakhstan and along with her modelling gigs, has been learning Japanese in Tokyo (which I’d love to do btw, someday). The day we shot must have been the coldest of my trip. Despite the cold, Madina, being a total professional, put in a lot of work into creating some really interesting shots. She added just the right touch of glamour to our location at Kagurazaka.
You can follow Madina’s instagram feed at @vierrarosa.
It was also great having someone with Bin Sunanaga’s experience and sense of humour to help with the hair and makeup on this shoot. Thank you Bin!
Model: Madina Komateni/ Acqua Models
H&MUA: Bin Sunanaga (www.tokyomakeup.com and www.binmakeup.com)
Styling and clothes: Model’s own
Entire series: http://www.bobanjames.com/work#0
Hana is represented by Junes Models Inc, and is a very hardworking, young model- and also one of the most polite people I’ve ever met! She has a very composed and cool look about her, which gave a very introspective mood to our shoot. Big thank you to Lisa Aoki for hair and make up! You can follow Hana at her instagram feed: @hanawattt
Model: Hana/ Junes Models
H&MUA: Lisa Aoki- @lisa_aoki (Instagram)/ @LisaAoki6 (Twitter)
Styling and clothes: Model’s own
I’d like to give a big shout of thanks to Will Geluf from Acqua Models (http://www.acquamodels.com/fashion) and Ayuko Kobayashi from Junes Models (http://www.junesmodels.com/) for helping facilitate shoots with their respective models. And of course, to each of the models for braving the cold and being professional!